The University of Southampton

Advanced Solid-State Lasers

Following recent advances in diode laser pump technology and optical fibre technology, it is now possible to pump fibre lasers and solid-state lasers with both very high power and very high intensity. This relatively new regime of operation has opened up a wealth of new possibilities including the opportunity to study some new and interesting aspects of laser physics, and to develop some novel, high-power solid-state and fibre sources with important applications potential. 

The Advanced Solid-State Sources group currently has vacancies for new students in the following research areas:

Group webpage


Hollow beam lasers and laser processing

Supervisor: Prof W A Clarkson
Co-supervisors: Peter Shardlow / Jacob Mackenzie  

Laser modes with a doughnut-shaped beam profile can have many unique properties, including axially-symmetric polarisation (azimuthal or radial) or orbital angular momentum. As a result, these beams have found use in a diverse range of applications from ‘laser tweezers’ to laser processing of materials. This project will explore novel approaches for generating hollow laser beams in fibre, bulk and planar laser formats exploiting recent advances in cladding-pumped fibre laser technology and solid-state laser technology.

Our approach will target the two-micron wavelength band and routes to very high average power levels with flexibility in mode of operation.

The project will investigate the underlying physics of hollow-beam generation and the fundamental limits. Particular emphasis will be directed pulsed mode of operation, and the generation of high peak powers and high pulse energies where there is a wealth of exciting applications. The project will then explore the potential benefits that these sources can yield in a range of different laser processing applications using our in-house laser processing facility.

Power scaling of mid-infrared lasers

Supervisor: Prof W A Clarkson 
Co-supervisor: Dr Peter Shardlow

Two-micron fibre laser technology has the potential to open up a wealth of new applications in areas such as industrial laser processing, medicine, defence and optical communications. Moreover, significant power scaling advantages can be gained by moving from traditional ytterbium-doped fibre lasers operating in the one-micron band to the two-micron band.

The main focus of the project will be to explore scaling output power from two-micron fibre lasers based on thulium in continuous-wave and pulsed operating regimes with flexibility in operating wavelength. Two micron lasers provide an excellent starting point for nonlinear frequency conversion to longer wavelengths in the mid-infrared band. The project will also explore a number of different nonlinear frequency conversion schemes for extending wavelength coverage to this band with particular emphasis on generating wavelengths in the ~3 – 5 μm band, where there an number of important applications.

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